City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO)

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Former name City of Birmingham Orchestra
Founded 1920
Concert hall Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Music director Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) is a British orchestra based in Birmingham, England. Its principal concert venue is Symphony Hall, Birmingham. The CBSO's current music director is Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, with the 2016-2017 season. The CBSO's current chief executive, appointed in 1999, is Stephen Maddock.


Founded by Neville Chamberlain, the orchestra first rehearsed at 9.30am on 4 September 1920, in the band room at the Birmingham City Police's Steelhouse Lane station.[1] The first public performance, as the City of Birmingham Orchestra occurred later that month, with Appleby Matthews, the orchestra's first chief conductor, at the baton. The programme included Overture: Saul by Granville Bantock, a strong supporter of the orchestra's foundation. However, its official foundation is generally reckoned to have been the "First Symphony Concert" in November 1920, when Edward Elgar conducted a programme of his own music in Birmingham Town Hall.

Adrian Boult was chief conductor from 1924 to 1930. The CBO became a full-time organisation in 1944, changing its name to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 1948. Chief conductors since then included Rudolf Schwarz, the composer Andrzej Panufnik, Boult in an emergency return for a season after Panufnik's sudden resignation, Hugo Rignold and Louis Frémaux. During this time, the orchestra made recordings and gave regular concerts.

The CBSO began to gain greater international renown after Simon Rattle became chief conductor in 1980. Under him, the orchestra increased its recording profile and became one of the leading ensembles in Europe, and gained a name for its interpretations of late romantic and 20th century works, especially those of Sibelius and Gustav Mahler. During this period, the orchestra moved from Birmingham Town Hall to a new home venue, Symphony Hall, inside Birmingham's International Convention Centre. The nearby CBSO Centre, a converted factory, houses management offices, rehearsal facilities, and is a concert venue in its own right, for more intimate performances. The CBSO Youth Orchestra has been affiliated with the CBSO since 2004.[2]

Rattle was named music director of the CBSO in 1990. That same year, the post of Radcliffe Composer in Association was created, with Mark-Anthony Turnage filling the role. In 1995 Judith Weir became Fairbairn Composer in Association, followed in 2001 by Julian Anderson.

After Rattle relinquished his posts with the CBSO, Sakari Oramo became chief conductor in 1998, and music director in 1999. His CBSO work included the Floof! festival of contemporary music.[3] He also championed the music of John Foulds in concerts and recordings.[4][5] In 2001, the players rejected a contract that would have stopped extra payments for broadcasts and recordings, in the context of financial crisis at the CBSO.[6] In addition, other controversy arose from the CBSO's demands from the Arts Council for a greater share of the Council's stabilisation fund, because of its reputation compared to other British orchestras.[7] In 2008, Oramo stood down as music director and took the title of principal guest conductor for the 2008-2009 season.[8][9]

In October 2007, the CBSO named Andris Nelsons as its next music director after Oramo, effective with the 2008–2009 season.[10] Nelsons' initial contract was for 3 years. The appointment was unusual in that Nelsons had not conducted the CBSO publicly prior to his appointment, but only in a private concert and in a recording session.[11] In July 2009, the orchestra extended Nelsons' contract for another 3 years, through the 2013–2014 season.[12] In August 2012, the CBSO announced the further extension of Nelsons' contract formally through the 2014-2015 season, and then for subsequent seasons on the basis of an annual rolling renewal.[13] In October 2013, the CBSO announced the conclusion of Nelsons' tenure as music director after the conclusion of the 2014-2015 season.[14][15] In May 2015, Nelsons was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society's (RPS) 2014 Conductor award.

The CBSO's most recent principal guest conductor was Edward Gardner. He began in the post in September 2011, with an initial contract of 3 years, for 3–4 weeks of concerts per season.[16][17] He concluded his tenure as CBSO principal guest conductor in July 2016.[18] The CBSO's current associate conductor is Michael Seal, and the current assistant conductor is Alpesh Chauhan.

In July 2015, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla first guest-conducted the CBSO.[19] She was subsequently engaged for an additional concert with the CBSO in January 2016.[20] In February 2016, the CBSO named her as its next music director, effective September 2016, with an initial contract of 3 years.[21] She is the first female conductor to be named music director of the CBSO.[22] She conducted her first concert as CBSO music director on 26 August 2016.[23]

The CBSO has recorded extensively for labels such as EMI Classics, Warner Classics,[24] and Orfeo.[25][26][27] The orchestra has also released recordings under its own self-produced label.[28]

Chief Conductors and Music Directors

See also


  1. Morley, Christopher (4 November 2010). "A glorious 90 years". The Birmingham Post. p. 4.
  2. Christopher Morley (2007-11-29). "CBSO's future in safe hands". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 23 January 2009.
  3. Tom Service (31 May 2003). "Floof!". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  4. Peter Culshaw (2006-04-26). "Visionary genius of the spirit world". The Telegraph. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  5. Sakari Oramo (28 April 2006). "The forgotten man". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 September 2007.
  6. David Ward (30 May 2001). "Top orchestra's cash crisis". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  7. David Ward (2 June 2001). "Orchestral discord over money with strings". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  8. Martin Cullingford, "Oramo to step down as CBSO music director". Gramophone, 22 February 2006.
  9. Terry Grimley (23 February 2006). "Who will pick up Oramo's baton?". The Birmingham Post. Retrieved 17 August 2007.
  10. Press Release (8 October 2007). "New direction at CBSO". Birmingham Music. Retrieved 2007-10-08.
  11. Charlotte Higgins (9 October 2007). "Young Latvian steps up to lead City of Birmingham orchestra". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
  12. Terry Grimley (24 July 2009). "CBSO's Andris Nelsons to stay for three more years after record season". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
  13. "Andris Nelsons renews contract with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra" (PDF) (Press release). City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. 16 August 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-19.
  14. "The search begins for the new Music Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra" (PDF) (Press release). City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. 2 October 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-03.
  15. Graeme Brown (2013-10-02). "CBSO music director Andris Nelsons to stand down at end of contract". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2013-10-03.
  16. "Edward Gardner appointed as Principal Guest Conductor of City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra" (Press release). City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. 10 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  17. Christopher Morley (24 September 2010). "Dream come true for Edward Gardner". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  18. Rian Evans (2016-09-01). "CBSO/Gardner: Falstaff review – played in the highest of end-of-term spirits". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  19. Christopher Morley (2015-07-27). "Review: Summer Concert, CBSO at Symphony Hall". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  20. Andrew Clements (2016-01-12). "CBSO/Gražinyte-Tyla review – attention to every morsel of detail". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  21. "New Music Director Announced" (Press release). City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. 2016-02-04. Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  22. Imogen Tilden (2016-02-04). "CBSO appoints 29-year-old Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla as music director". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  23. David Hart (2016-08-27). "Review: Welcoming Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, CBSO at Symphony Hall". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2016-09-01.
  24. Tim Ashley (8 April 2005). "Rachmaninov; Piano Concertos 2 & 4, Lugansky/ CBSO/ Oramo". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
  25. Christopher Morley (24 June 2009). "First love rekindled for Andris Nelsons and CBSO". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
  26. Andrew Clements (5 February 2010). "Strauss: Ein Heldenleben; Rosenkavalier Suite, City of Birmingham SO, Nelsons". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
  27. Tim Ashley (13 May 2010). "Stravinsky: The Firebird; Symphony of Psalms". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
  28. Anthony Holden (8 July 2007). "Classical CDs". The Observer. Retrieved 2010-09-28.

External links

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